September 16, 2017

inside my Ipsy bag: September 2017...

Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
I'm basically head-over-heels for this $10, monthly subscription bag. I started receiving Ipsy bags about six months ago, after I found out that pretty much every one of my sisters had been subscribed for a while and loved it. I thought I'd try it out, not planning on continuing my subscription very long—mostly because I'm not fancy with my makeup routine and it's never been a priority to use name-brand products. Still, the $10 price tag was tempting, and because I do love trying new products, I thought I'd try it out and see what I thought.

Six months in, I can't quit because this drugstore gal has now found a new way to get quality makeup on the cheap. Each bag has five items that are customized to your preferences (often full-size) and there hasn't been one bag I've been disappointed with. (See later on in my post for a handful of items I received that I continue use every single day.)
Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
I figured that it would be fun to start reviewing my bags here—mostly because I have been receiving them long enough now that I feel confident recommending them to pretty much anyone. Even as thrifty as I am, these bags have replaced any makeup purchases I used to make, and at $10 a month, even I say it's totally worth it. (Based on their marketing materials featuring 20-somethings with blue eyebrows, black eyeshadow and sparkly lipstick, I am so not their demographic, yet I've absolutely loved every bag I've received. Perhaps I should lead their marketing campaign for 30-something homeschool moms who typically buy their makeup using coupons at CVS. HIT ME UP, IPSY.)

Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
The bag this month is one I think is one I will actually keep in my purse and not simply donate to my daughter. Many of the bags my products have arrived in end up being something I give to Eisley to keep her Shopkins or collection of hair clips in. But this one is beautiful! I think I shall keep it for myself. (Sorry, Eisley.)

See below for the goodness I received this month:

Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer — This is something I will never use, but it seems there is always one product in my bag that it out of my makeup repertoire. (I typically keep these things in a box to send to my younger sisters, who know a heck of a lot more about makeup than I do.)

GELlusion polish in Virgo — I initially did not like this color at all, but was thrilled to try out some new nail polish. I've never used any sort of gel-effect polish, and this brand is absolutely fantastic. After two coats, it ended up darker than it looks in the bottle and is officially my new favorite. I'd post a photo of it on my toes, but the internet is weird and creeps be creepin', so you'll just have to trust me on this one.

SKINFOOD Black Sugar Mask — Who can say no to a mask? Not I. Used it, loved it, felt totally pampered.

Ciate London Wonderland Mascara — I've received a bunch of mascaras in my bags, which is so much fun for me because I almost never try new ones. This one isn't my favorite (mostly because I like my mascara to be a little thicker on my lashes after two coats) but for days I want to wear just a touch of makeup, it'll be perfect.

Dirty Little Secret Lip Gloss in Nude Beach — This is hands down my favorite product of the month. It's basically the lipgloss of my dreams. Shiny, lightweight, just a small touch of color. Oh, and the folks at Ipsy mentioned how it smells like kettle corn and oh, my gosh, it totally does. I literally wear it every day.

current Ipsy favorites |
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I continue to use nearly all the products I've received over the last six months. I thought I'd share a (literal) handful of the products I now use on a daily basis that have replaced the dusty, old makeup that had been taking up space in my makeup bag for years. (There are so many more products I still use that aren't included in this list, but to keep it short I figured I'd just stick to the dailies!)

theBALM Balm Springs Blush — This is the perfect blush for a fair gal like myself.

Makeup For Ever Excessive Lash Mascara — As I mentioned, I've received several mascaras in these bags, but this remains a favorite. Small brush, perfect application, good-eyelash-day guaranteed.

Ciate London Wonderland Gel-Kohl Liner — I've received several different eyeliners, but this one is my favorite of the bunch.

Paula Dorf Cosmetics Universal Brow Pencil — One thing these Ipsy bags have started me on is actually doing my brows. I had no idea I could use a brow pencil without looking like I have drawn-on eyebrows, but this one works like magic!

treStiQue Mini Concealer Crayon — This is my new go-to cover up that I use under my eyes and on any blemishes. Works like a charm.

Luxie Beauty Dreamcatcher Precision Foundation Brush — I break the rules and use this to apply bronzer. Don't tell the makeup police.

Glamour Dolls Lisa Frank Blush Brush — Childhood throwback! I use this to apply blush daily.

If you're interested in signing up to receive your own Ipsy bags, feel free to use my referral link! You can cancel any time and aren't required to pay for anything beyond a month-to-month subscription. (For the record: I pay for each of these bags myself, and the only kickback I get if you use my link are points on my account that I can redeem for extra beauty products.) If you do end up signing up, please let me know what you think of what you receive! Because everyone receives a bag based on their own preferences, there are so many different products available each month and I love to find out what other people end up getting.

— Further reading: four drugstore makeup favorites

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here. Thank you for your support!

September 15, 2017

mothering, mornings and me time...

Earlier this week, I had a day that was just rough. It seemed that all my eldest wanted to do was whine, complain and be generally sassy in her response to basically everything that was happening in life. Age six is mostly delightful, but this part is difficult. She's old enough to generally control her responses in a way that doesn't make me want to lash out irrationally, but still young enough that human nature often gets in the way. I ended up cancelling our big plans for the day, which she had been eagerly anticipating. Consequences are tough business, but at a certain point I'm left with nothing else to do. I can't tiptoe around a dreadful attitude for hours upon end, then drive off to the beach all afternoon for what will most likely feel like a reward to her.

She was definitely upset, as was I, and I was sure to give her plenty of time to level herself out while I sobbed quietly into a pile of laundry, cursing my pregnancy hormones and the moments in life when I envy parents who have time away from their kids during the week.

When people discover we homeschool, often one of the first things they will say is how they could never do it because they aren't patient enough. Well, folks: I am not perfectly patient. I am not Mary Poppins, nor do I bear any resemblance to an eerily calm and cheerful elementary school teacher with a musical voice, constant smile and brightly colored cardigans. I do not get along perfectly with my first-grader. She and I are both extremely similar and markedly different—depending on what we are dealing with at any given moment. And although I do feel that having so much time with my children—focusing on relationships, family culture and such—is one of the reasons I can't imagine not homeschooling at this time, it doesn't mean that it's easy. There are times it is definitely difficult to never have a break. My husband travels a fair amount for work, and neither my parents nor Jay's are local. There isn't much I ever do that doesn't involve one or both children.

I don't resent my role, and I take my vocation as mom and teacher very seriously. I see it as a calling and a huge blessing to me. But does that make it easy? No. No, it does not. And sometimes it just feels good to admit that.

One thing I've been doing lately is waking up ridiculously early. It's like some form of pregnancy insomnia, but if anything wakes me up after 5AM, I'm unable to go back to sleep. I've decided to just embrace it, and typically lay there in bed for a few minutes, feeling baby kicks and praying a bit for the day ahead. And once I actually have my feet on the floor (and tiptoe like a borderline criminal down the staircase, in an effort to not make any noise that would wake my early-risers) I've found that I'm actually quite content to be awake before the sun.

Typically, I get myself a cup of coffee, then set about preparing a few things for the day. I look over our plans for school and organize everything for Morning Time (books we will be reading, mark off passages for Eisley to read aloud, gather printables she will be completing, etc.). I review her math and language arts lessons for the day, which we do online. I actually love the feeling of having all this ready before Eisley wanders downstairs and gives me her daily breakfast request. (Lately, it has been an egg on toast cut into bites, please and thank you.)

When I'm done preparing for the day, then any time left becomes me time. Ah, yes, the elusive me time. I will sit down at the kitchen table with my coffee, listening intently for the tiny footsteps upstairs that almost always become noticeable within ten minutes of my opening the laptop. But sometimes, like this morning, I get lucky. I'm able to take a look at my email, try a few surveys online (yes, I still do this to bring in a bit of extra money), browse Pinterest to pin projects and worksheets for my daughter to complete for school, and work on posts for the blog.

The only way I'm able to write consistently again is thanks to these mornings. I feel like I wake up with so much more inspiration than I have any other time of day. Even while the girls are resting in the afternoon and I have 1-2 hours to myself, that is almost never me time. I take care of phone calls and cleaning and other less appealing activities (mostly ones that are difficult to accomplish with kids running around or begging for another cup of goldfish crackers). I can't even talk to you about evenings, because even on the best night I'm basically a zombie on the couch after the kids are in bed at 8PM. I've completely given up on accomplishing anything after that point, except for reading a book or scrolling on my phone.

So, mornings it is. I enjoy a bit of silence, a bit of coffee, a bit of writing. I have never considered myself a morning person—and honestly, I still wouldn't consider myself one. But out of necessity, here I am, awake and kind of liking it. Appreciating it, because even when it is just twenty minutes of coffee and email, it helps me feel a bit more prepared and a bit more centered before the "real" day begins.

Further reading: crazy and peaceful

September 11, 2017

five favorite picture books...

Five favorite picture books |
If there's one thing I'm mildly obsessed with, it's children's books. As a child, my mom instilled in me a love of the library, charming tales and beautifully-illustrated pages, and I have so many memories of reading our favorite picks over and over and over with her and my sisters. I'm happy to also be raising readers within my own home, and the girls and I make it to the library at least twice a week these days. Along with the many (possibly too many) books we own, we like to have a steady rotation of library books sitting in the basket by our fireplace. Even if I set a limit for us during a visit ("Okay, let's get only six books today.") we will literally never stick to the limit ("Mom, you know we always get more than we think."). Yes, I'm usually the culprit, throwing in several more books I find as we head to check out.

Have I mentioned that I have a life goal of one day working at a library? True story.

In any case, there always seem to be some particularly beautiful, well-written and captivating picture books I come across every month, and I've been wanting to find a place to share our favorites.

Here and there, I'll be sharing five of our current favorite picture books with you here on the blog, and the ones I choose will always be those I feel are worthy of at the very least checking out from your own local library—but also worthy of gifting to a book-loving child you know. (Books, after all, are the best gifts. Amen.) Although we are picky with the books we actually purchase (I typically only buy books from used book sales or thrift stores, and purchase new books for birthdays or Christmas), there are so many I come across lately that I would love to add to our personal library.

Here are a handful that we've enjoyed within the last few weeks!

1. The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito — The illustrations are what made me want to pick up this book, and the story ended up being just as sweet. This book follows a boy around the bustling city of Tokyo as he learns about and searches for ma, which is the Japanese word for the pause, or silence, between other noises. Such a good read-aloud!

2. Mary and the Mouse, The Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio — I pretty much want to live inside the world this illustrator, Barbara McClintock, creates. (She also wrote and illustrated a couple books about a french boy and girl, Adele & Simon, which are part storybook, part look-and-find, and we absolutely loved them.) This book shares a multi-generational story of a girl and a mouse who share the same house. Eisley loved seeing the similarities between the illustrations of the girl's life and the mouse's life.

3. Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston — It was a bummer to read a crisp, autumnal book like this when Southern California heat was hovering around 95 degrees, but alas! This story follows a girl who is observing nature from her favorite spot in a tree in a forest near her home. She has a nature journal and sketches the creatures around her (which I personally love, because this is our first year using nature journaling as a part of our schooling). It's one of those picture books that teach children things about nature and the world around them without feeling like your average non-fiction book. It is a winner, for sure. And if you haven't seen the other books from author/illustrator Jim LaMarche, you are missing out!

4. Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman by Esme Raji Codell — Apparently I knew little to nothing about the real Johnny Appleseed, but after reading this book, Eisley and I now have a better grasp on the reality behind the Tall Tale. Aside from the incredible illustrations, I loved how the story was presented in a way that draws modern children into a very different time. I know many people are studying apples and such in September, so this would be a good one to add to the library stack this month!

5. Museum ABC by The NY Metropolitan Museum of Art — As anyone knows, there is an endless selection of ABC books for toddlers and children. But this one is definitely on my list of ones to add to our own library (and to use as a gift for other little ones in my life!). Each letter features four works of art pertaining to a specific word. For instance, "C" is for "cat" and shows four images of cats from four very different pieces of artwork. Cora adored this book and I love that even a toddler can be introduced to some incredible artwork in this way.

As always, I am on the lookout for new books to read with my daughters—so be sure to leave any current favorites of your own within the comments!

— Further reading: a few favorite books for age three

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here. Thank you for your support!